A proposal to create a residents’ advisory group to serve as a liaison between the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and the community was dropped by supervisors on Tuesday.
The proposal was brought forward by a subcommittee of the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Office in response to calls from some members of the public to implement Assembly Bill 1185.
The legislation, passed in September 2020, gives county supervisors the power to create oversight boards or appoint an inspector general to assist them in their oversight of sheriffs.
The proposed residents’ advisory group would have operated similarly to an oversight board, but with two main exceptions. An oversight board would have the ability to issue investigative subpoenas while the advisory group would not, and the oversight board would be subject to public disclosure requirements under the Brown Act, while the advisory group would not. .
Marin County Attorney Brian Washington said that under AB 1185, neither body would have the authority to direct the sheriff on law enforcement matters.
“In sum,” Washington said, “a board of supervisors would essentially have a bully pulpit to shed light on the sheriff’s operations, much the same way the grand jury does. But the establishment of a board of supervisors does not change the division of powers between the supervisors and the sheriff.
Marin County Deputy Sheriff Jamie Scardina said, “What we at the sheriff’s office would say to the community at large is that you don’t need a subpoena to ask for our documents. If we can legally give you documents that we have, we will give you those documents.
Nearly two dozen members of the public commenting at Tuesday’s meeting rejected the proposal for an advisory group and instead called for an oversight board.
“A task force without real power is not enough,” Kelley Buhles said. “The Sheriff unfortunately has a long history of abuse of power and racist policing. No subpoena power means no power.
Tara Evans said the Residents’ Advisory Group proposal was “another moderate attempt by White, Marin to sell performative equity” that would “sanction Marin’s ethnic segregation and incite sheriff’s deputies to continue their harassment and brutality.” racial”.
Lisa Bennett said, “We seek systemic change in an oppressive system that has a huge power imbalance in the hands of law enforcement.”
Helen Castillo, who heads the Marin Human Rights Commission, said she sent a letter to supervisors calling for the creation of an oversight board following a public forum in June.
“The recommendation was in no way intended as a criticism of the sheriff but rather as an acknowledgment of what public sentiment reflected,” Castillo said.
Mark Dale, who founded Families for Safer Schools in 2010 after his son nearly died of a drug overdose, was the only member of the public to speak out in favor of adopting the advisory group model.
“You need a starting point, and I think that’s as good as it gets,” Dale said. “It’s good public policy.”
Scardina said he found some of the comments made about his department’s deputies during the meeting disrespectful.
“If we have MPs acting inappropriately, we need to find out now, today,” Scardina said. “We have some of the most talented and hardworking MPs who show up every day to serve this community, and I’m proud to stand with them.”
Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle, who announced he will not be running again in June, said, “We have another public hearing again where we hear these blanket charges without any specifics. I agree with the deputy, it’s very insulting.
“You have to listen to your biggest audience, not just the people who show up and shout the loudest,” Doyle said. “I don’t think that’s representative of the citizens of Marin.”
Under the rejected residents’ advisory group approach, County Administrator Matthew Hymel and the sheriff’s office would have appointed a selection committee, which in turn would have selected 15 to 20 residents to serve on the task force. Members would have included residents of various ethnic, religious, gender, work, business and age backgrounds.
The advisory group reportedly listened to residents’ feedback on law enforcement and worked with the sheriff’s office to develop strategies to improve services.
Areas of interest would have included the citizen complaint process; cultural competence; potential training and operational improvement; improving programs and services for inmates returning to the community; and raise public awareness of the needs, responsibilities and objectives of law enforcement.
A professional facilitator was reportedly hired to help smooth interactions between the advisory group and the sheriff’s office.
“The goal of the advisory group was to allow a little more room for shared learning and constructive feedback,” Hymel said. “We thought if it worked well, it could bring more change.”
Supervisors Dennis Rodoni, Stephanie Moulton-Peters and Judy Arnold, however, said they were uncomfortable with this approach and wanted to at least reconsider whether to create a supervisory board.
Rodoni said the intent of AB 1185 was to give supervisors truly independent control over enforcement.
“We don’t have that in this proposal,” he said.
Moulton-Peters said, “I think we need an oversight body for oversight, accountability, transparency, checks and balances and subpoena power.”